The Practices of Structural Policy in Western Market Economies since the 1960s

28.-29.05.2015, Tagung, Potsdam

Conveners: Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam, Dr. Ralf Ahrens; German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C., Dr. Stefan Hördler; Emory University, Atlanta, GA, Prof. Astrid M. Eckert

Please RSVP before May 20, 2015.

As the postwar boom abated in the Western industrial nations, a broad variety of state economic interventions rapidly gained significance that were subsumed (though with partly differing connotations) under the labels of "structural" or "industrial policy." Unlike regulatory and stabilization policies that address economic conditions on the macro level, structural policy focuses on the development of particular regions or sectors. It has always implied expectations and assumptions about the desired composition and development of a national economy and its regional and sectoral labor markets. Through the use of subsidies and infrastructure projects financed by the state, tax money was redirected in favor of certain regions, industries or even single companies. The costs of such measures, their economic outcomes and the concomitant socio-political principles required public justification and have frequently been the subject of debates.

Structural policy therefore stands at the intersection of politics and economics. Despite its centrality for both, the historical practice of political decisions relating to structural policy after the boom decades has yet to be explored. This conference aims at convening economic and political historians to discuss the driving forces, debates and practices of structural policy in Western Europe and the United States since the 1960s. It seeks to address the range of reactions within the "varieties of capitalism" to challenges posed by global structural changes. It intends to elucidate negotiations between political players and industrial actors as well as the economic causes and consequences of subsidies.

Supported by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung.


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Frank Bösch, Welcome
Conveners, Introduction

I. Industrial Policies "After the Boom" 
Chair: Christopher Neumaier
Martin Chick, Industrial policy in Britain since 1970: changing values, assumptions and mechanisms
Marc Levinson, Punishing productivity: Some consequences of U.S. industrial policy, 1969-1985

II. European Impacts
Chair: Marc Buggeln
Samuel Beroud, "Positive adjustments": The emergence of supply-side economics in OECD and G7 debates, 1975-1983
Laurent Warlouzet, The Golden Age of EEC industrial policy. Managing the decline of steel from 1977 to 1984
Christos Tsakas, The industrialization of Europe's South-Eastern bulwark: Greek industrial policy from the association treaty with the EEC to the transition to democracy, 1961-1975

Friday, 29 May 2015

III. Regional Development: Theories and Policies
Chair: Rüdiger Graf
Ferenc Gyuris, Western concepts about regional convergence as products of the scientific Cold War
Astrid M. Eckert, West German borderland aid and European state aid control
Fabio Lavista, Structural policies, regional development and industrial specialisation in Italy (1960-1990)

IV. Sectoral Policies
Chair: Kim C. Priemel
Dorothee Ryser, Fighting structural change: The case of the Swiss dairy sector, 1960s‐1990s
Stefan Hördler, Structural crisis and industrial policy in the 1970s: The steel industries in Germany and the US 
Ralf Ahrens, Subsidies and the perception of change. Debates and practice in West German structural policy

V. Politics, Companies, and Unions
Chair: Anne Sudrow
Christian Marx, A European structural crisis cartel as solution to a sectoral depression? The West European fibre industry in the 1970s and 1980s
Sebastian Voigt, Delayed perception, familiar reaction? The crisis policy of the Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund in the 1970s and early 1980s

Final Discussion


Dr. Ralf Ahrens
Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung
Am Neuen Markt 1
14467 Potsdam